No one ever tells you this about the city before you get here. They paint Toronto out to be the land of opportunity – the city of lights and live music and Drake spottings. Blue Jays tickets and island picnics and hipster coffee shops. There’s always something to do! Places to go! People to ignore!
What they don’t tell you is that these things are all surface level. The lights and shows and celebrity sightings; the Argos tickets and bike rides and Sunday morning croissants. Yes, these things all happen – but not at the mile-a-minute pace you were expecting them to. In reality, they are few and far between, popping up in-between Toronto’s REAL hobby – standing in line.
When it starts it feels natural – standing in line for elevators. For ticket sales. Entrance to the Opera House. When it starts, you stand in line for things and in places you’d expect to wait in line for.
But then one Thursday – a seemingly regular Thursday in October – you’re walking home, headphones deep inside your ears so no one dares to talk to you. You round the corner of Portland and Adelaide and you see a lineup for Joe Fresh spanning halfway down the block.
“That’s odd,” you think, ensuring you don’t make eye contact with anyone while trying to figure out just what exactly everyone’s waiting for.
On Sunday it gets worse. You leave your apartment to meet someone for brunch, eager for a coffee and side of eggs benny. But you aren’t met with brunch, you’re met with lineups. Auntie’s and Uncles. Old School. Starving Artist. Everyone waits and waits for the best brunch in the best place with the best Instagrammable-waffle you’ve ever seen.
And that’s when you realize what Toronto is really all about. It isn’t the lights and shows and celebrity sightings that draw people to live here – it’s the opportunity to stand in line for literally anything.
For cheesecake and charcoal desserts and and trendy restaurants with only 2 tables and a crate to sit on.
For Sweet Jesus. Bang Bang. iHalo and Burger’s Priest and the poop cafe.
One time I saw people lining up outside the ramen place that everyone had recently decided was all the rage. There was a Pizza Pizza next door and a guy who had presumably been lined up for his ramen longer than he was expecting went inside and ordered a slice of pizza and sat down at a table and ATE this slice of pizza. AND THEN HE JOINED HIS FRIENDS BACK IN LINE FOR RAMEN.
We love it! We love waiting in line so much that we will literally seek out sustenance in order to be physically able to wait in line even longer.
But THEN, we are told to wait for something – and this makes all the difference. Sure, we’ll voluntarily stand out in the cold for minutes that turn into hours just so we can Instagram over-priced food that is an unexpected colour. But when we HAVE to wait for something, everyone literally loses their mind.
The TTC. It’s chaos! People running from all angles to make the train before the doors close, pushing in front of that old lady and the guy on his phone. Pushing in front of everyone they can because no one is willing to wait the extra 3 minutes to catch the next train.
No one is willing to wait 3 minutes to catch the next train but WE WILL ALL WAIT 3 HOURS TO GET A FUCKING SOFT SERVE ICE CREAM CONE.
No one ever tells you this about the city before you get here. They paint Toronto out to be the land of opportunity – the city of lights and live music and former Degrassi-star sightings. But the real draw of the city? Ohh baby, you’ll find it at the 52 minute mark in the TIFF rush lineup. You’re almost next. And you just can’t wait to get inside and stand in line for some gourmet popcorn.